Issue No. 288: Hot Spot

Today's issue is presented by

Take your health into your own hands.

Sauna culture is surging.

Heat Check

From high-tech to wood-fired, sauna use is finding clinical co-sign.

  • Saunaing ~3x/week lowers all-cause mortality risk by 40% and CVD death risk by 27%.
  • A single session improves reaction time, psychological stress, and mood.
  • Paired with exercise, sauna lowers blood pressure and cholesterol while enhancing cardio fitness and recovery.

Stacking up, experts are cautiously optimistic about its use for combating depressiondementiaarthritis, and even cancer, while also boosting healthspan.

Follow the Finns. Science is catching up with ancient wisdom.

A spiritual Finnish tradition since the Stone Age, sauna is a way of life, with ~3M saunas for the country’s 5.5M population — and widespread acceptance of steam’s healing effects.

Now, the “church of nature” has become core to wellness culture.

Hot Stuff

Heat-seekers are changing the recovery landscape.

  • The global sauna market is expected to top $195B by 2029.
  • Sauna was the fourth most booked wellness reservation on ClassPass in ’23.
  • 19% of the average American fitness routine is dedicated to recovery.

Reading the thermostat, brands are cashing in.

On fire. All-in on infrared, Sunlighten and Clearlight are equipping homes and health clubs, while ice bath maker Plunge launched saunas last year.

Growing its wellness division, Kohler acquired high-end German manufacturer KLAFS, and Harvia, owner of Almost Heaven saunas, gained market share in ’23.

Burn biz. Sauna-centric studios are moving fast, with Perspire and SweatHouz rolling out 100+ studios by EOY,  as franchisers Sauna House and Pause scale up.

Stacking amenities, 8% of fitness studios plan to add sauna this year.

Houses of healing. Essential for spa/social clubs like Remedy Place, Canyon Ranch, and BATHHOUSE, companies are selling consumers on communal benefits.

Launching this month, Othership’s new NYC space features a 75-person sauna alongside breathwork and cold plunges, while SF’s Alchemy Springs is piloting its public outdoor sauna garden concept.

Temp change. Taking cues from hot yoga, operators are cranking the heat on other modalities, like Y7 Studio’s sculpt and Hotworx’s indoor cycling.

Pivoting to DTC, HigherDOSE grew 125% in recent years selling sauna blankets, while Hyperice added 120°F massage gun heads.


A caveat, sauna’s benefits stem from the body’s adaptation to heat stress — meaning it can’t be widely prescribed for those with heart ailments or low heat tolerance.

Plus, hype may be outpacing research, with most studies small and lacking diverse participants.

With global risk of acute heat injury growing, especially among older adults, sauna won’t be a solution for everyone.

Takeaway: As health-seekers explore new rituals, sauna is a boon for wellness brands. Beyond the physical, its communal roots and screen-free etiquette give consumers space to connect.

🎙 On the Podcast

Jacob Peters, Co-Founder & CEO of Superpower

Superpower co-founder & CEO Jacob Peters discusses redesigning healthcare.

After a personal health crisis, Jacob founded preventative care platform Superpower. A 24/7 digital longevity clinic, it combines advanced diagnostics, expert clinicians, and AI-driven plans.

We also cover: productizing healthcare, democratizing concierge medicine, and building a consumer longevity brand.

Listen to today’s episode here.

⌚️ Apple unveils health and fitness upgrades

The tech giant is prioritizing personalization, performance, and women’s health in WatchOS updates coming this fall.

Dialed in. Already measuring heart rate, respiratory rate, wrist temperature, sleep duration, and blood oxygen, new features provide detailed well-being insights.

  • Vitals. The new Vitals app translates data into a daily health status, alerting users when metrics are off baseline and tracing potential causes.
  • Pregnancy. Gestational age will be displayed within the Cycle Tracking app, along with prompts to log pregnancy-related mental and physical symptoms.
  • Training. Recognizing recovery’s role, the new Training Load feature calculates the toll of workouts and warns users if strain is ramping up.
  • Goal setting. Users can now personalize activity goals by day of the week and leverage a new pause feature to preserve streaks on rest days.

Innovating to stay ahead, Apple looks to outmaneuver competitors like Oura, Garmin, and WHOOP while laying the foundation for an AI-powered health coach rumored to be in the works.

Looking ahead: With glucose and hydration tracking sensors in development, Apple is aiming to make its wearable the center of connected health and fitness.

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🏥 CrossFit targets healthcare

The functional fitness company launched CrossFit Medical Society (CFMS), enlisting healthcare professionals to utilize its workout methodology for lifestyle intervention.

Movement x medicine. The membership-based organization seeks to turn CrossFit gyms into “health homes” where exercise is used to combat chronic disease.

Fitness MD. CFMS is CrossFit’s latest attempt to crack healthcare.

  • 2017: CrossFit Health debuted under ousted founder Greg Glassman, who envisioned doctor-prescribed workouts.
  • 2020: The effort reemerged as an education and event platform following a leadership change.
  • 2021: It rolled out Precision Care, a telehealth service positioned as “primary care for CrossFitters, by CrossFitters” before shuttering in 2023.

On trend, CrossFit is renewing its commitment to exercise-led interventions as operators like EquinoxFITNESS SF, and Life Time implement a gym-as-clinic model.

Punchline: Beyond expounding exercise’s benefits, CrossFit and others must convince a sedentary population to participate, which may be harder than securing a doctor’s co-sign.

📰 News & Notes

  • Elo Health debuts GLP-1 protein blends.
  • Planet Fitness sells $800M in asset-backed bonds.
  • Echelon Fitness acquires ThriveX, enters recovery tech.
  • HOKABandit debut community-focused NYC flagships.
  • lululemon eyes $10B in revenue as competition mounts.
  • GymNation breaks sign-up records ahead of Saudi debut.
  • Keyspan and Austin Simply Fit partner in gym-as-clinic push.
  • Foxtrot co-founder plans store revival. [Re-read: Rethinking CPG]
  • On taps Zendaya as brand ambassador, readies product collabs.
  • F45 Training, David Beckham settle stock compensation lawsuit.
  • hDrop launches hydration-tracking tool analyzing sweat composition.
  • WIT Fitness founders reclaim training apparel brand, prepare relaunch.
  • Saint Haven readies Melbourne wellness clubs, plots global expansion.
  • Lumin Fitness lands 8-unit franchise deal for Louisiana. [Re-read: Lumin x AI]
  • MADabolic, MacroStax team up to integrate fitness and nutrition programming.
  • Discover hundreds of open roles on Fitt Jobs. // Enlist Fitt Talent Partners to land your next hire.

💰 Money Moves

  • Finnish CGM platform Veri added €1.2M in a crowdfunding round.
  • Medspa operator Princeton Medspa Partners closed a $120M funding round led by BC Partners.
  • IV clinic Hydralive Therapy raised $2.2M in a funding round for franchise expansion.
  • Authentic Brands Group acquired sportswear brand Champion from apparel maker HanesBrands.
  • Pelotan, a sunscreen brand for athletes, secured undisclosed investments from triathletes Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden.
  • Eko Health, maker of AI-powered stethoscopes for early disease detection, raised $41M in a Series D round.
  • Ecomm CPG company Society Brands acquired supplement maker Vitality Now.
  • Investor group Ahimsa Companies acquired plant-based CPG company Wicked Kitchen and associated brands Good Catch and Current Foods.
  • Whoosh, makers of club management software for golf and racquet clubs, closed a $10.3M Series A round led by AlleyCorp.
  • The Zone, a student-athlete focused mental health platform, secured an undisclosed investment from 3LS Ventures.
  • School-based telehealth provider Hazel Health secured $1.5M from UnitedHealthcare to expand mental healthcare in Iowa schools.
  • Nonalcoholic beverage brand Mocktail Club added an undisclosed investment from Pronghorn.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, Ryan Deer, and Jasmina Breen. 

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